Individual differences in explicit and implicit science and arts attitudes
There is substantial anecdotal and quantitative data to suggest that males and females make different behavioural choices with regards to studying and pursuing a career in science or the arts. Despite a clear pattern of sex differences, with males showing a preference for sciences and females showing a preference for arts, there has been little attempt to rigorously investigate anything other than social and societal factors on determining these differences. This thesis investigated the potential impacts of a number of individual differences on explicit and implicit science and arts attitudes. Seven studies are reported that looked at the effects of cognitive style, cognitive abilities, gender, social desirability and persuasion on individual differences, and in particular the pattern of sex differences, in attitudes towards science and arts. Study 1 found the expected sex differences in explicit science and arts attitudes, with males having more positive attitudes towards science and females having more positive attitudes towards the arts; there was also a strong association between attitude preferences and degree choice (MA or BSc) behaviours. In addition to sex differences there was also evidence that individual differences in Need for Cognition (NFC: Cacioppo & Petty, 1982) were associated with differences in how positive people’s attitudes were towards both sciences and the arts. Studies 2 and 3 found no evidences that individual differences in fluid and crystallised intelligence (Cattell, 1963) were important factors in determining science and arts attitudes; there was no evidence of sex differences in either intellectual ability. Study 4 found that the pattern of sex and NFC differences found among the relatively specialised population of undergraduate psychology students was also prevalent in a representative sample of the general population. Study 5 found that implicit science and arts attitudes (measured with the Implicit Association Test: IAT, Greenwald, McGhee & Schwarz, 1998) showed a similar pattern of results to those of explicit attitudes, with males showing a preference for science over arts and females showing a preference for arts over science; implicit attitudes were also closely related to degree choice behaviours. Studies 6 & 7 explored the possibility of explicit and implicit attitude change using a statement generation of self-persuasion task. In study 6, it was found that explicit science attitudes became more positive and explicit arts attitudes more negative, following a positive/science and negative/arts persuasion task.